|Branding||Fox 25 (general)
Fox 25 News (newscasts)
|Slogan||So Fox 25|
|Channel||Digital: 31 (UHF)
Virtual: 25 (PSIP)
|Owner||Fox Television Stations|
|First air date||October 10, 1977|
|Callsign meaning||FoX Television|
|Former callsigns||WXNE-TV (1977–1987)|
25 (UHF, 1977–2009)
|Former affiliations||Independent (1977–1986)|
|Effective power||780 kW |
WFXT is an owned-and-operated station (O&O) of the News Corporation-owned Fox Broadcasting Company, located in Boston, Massachusetts. The station's studio and office facility is in Dedham, Massachusetts, and its transmitter is located in Needham, Massachusetts. WFXT is one of six Boston television stations seen in Canada by subscribers of the Bell TV satellite service. It is the only "big-seven" network station in Boston to omit a -TV or -DT suffix.
Channel 25 signed on as WXNE-TV (for "Christ (X) in New England") on October 10, 1977. The station was originally owned by the Christian Broadcasting Network. The early format consisted of older syndicated reruns which were deemed to be "family-friendly", as well as a healthy dose of religious programming, such as CBN's own The 700 Club and programs of many other televangelists. Religious programming ran for about six hours a day during the week, and all day on Sundays. The station also picked up the daily and Sunday Mass from Boston Catholic Television Center. Secular programming consisted of westerns, old movies, family type drama shows, old film shorts, and classic TV shows. By 1980, the religious programming was cut back on Sundays to 6 to 11 a.m. and 7 p.m. to midnight, and about four to five hours a day during the week.
The station began adding more cartoons, made-for-TV movies, and off network sitcoms in the early 1980s. At the same time, the station rebranded itself "Boston 25", in the conversion to being a true independent. While the station was only on cable systems in the Greater Boston market, WXNE was a solid third among independent stations, behind the longer-established WSBK-TV and WLVI-TV, and sixth among commercial television stations.
In 1986, WXNE was put up for sale along with other CBN stations. That October, after being unable to affiliate with WSBK or WLVI, News Corporation would purchase WXNE with plans to make that station Boston's affiliate for its new network, Fox. That deal was finalized on January 19, 1987. Prior to the sale to Fox, WXNE did not air any Fox programs, including The Late Show Starring Joan Rivers, Fox's inaugural program and a weeknight show which aired opposite Johnny Carson's Tonight Show on NBC. The outgoing CBN ownership believed that the program did not fit its strict content guidelines. Fox instead contracted Boston radio station WMRE (now WWZN) to carry the audio portion of the Late Show until its purchase of WXNE was completed. When the sale was completed, Fox renamed the station WFXT and significantly changed its on-air presentation. Besides adding the Late Show to the schedule, the 700 Club was demoted to a once-a-day airing, and the daily Roman Catholic Mass was moved to an earlier timeslot, though most other programming remained unchanged; some older sitcoms were dropped, and would soon migrate to WQTV (now WBPX-TV). In April 1987, the Sunday evening religious programming block was replaced with Fox programming.
Over the next few years, WFXT was unable to acquire stronger programming and continued to only get shows that WSBK, WLVI, and the network affiliates passed on. Most of the shows added to WFXT were low-budget, first run syndicated shows, as well as cartoons and additional Fox programming.
In purchasing channel 25, Fox was granted a temporary waiver of a FCC rule prohibiting the common ownership of a television station and a newspaper in the same market. Fox's parent company, News Corporation, also published the Boston Herald. In 1989, Fox placed WFXT in a trust company; the next year it sold the station outright to the Boston Celtics, who would maintain the network affiliation while making WFXT the basketball team's flagship. The Celtics, however, did not have the financial means to compete as a broadcaster. Still, under the Celtics, WFXT began to acquire stronger programming.
By 1992, WFXT was on many more cable systems in areas of New England where Fox programming was not available. Locally, however, the station was still third (though not as distant as the CBN or early Fox days) behind WSBK and WLVI. Still, for a while under the Celtics' watch, WFXT was perceived to be in danger of losing its Fox affiliation.
News Corporation sold the Boston Herald in 1994, opening the door for Fox to purchase WFXT for a second time in mid-1995. Under Fox, the station continued to obtain stronger programming; as the 1990s progressed, WFXT began phasing in more talk and reality programs. It continued running weekday cartoons and evening sitcoms. It was the last station running a morning kids block.
WFXT was the television flagship of the Boston Red Sox for the baseball team's 2000 through 2002 seasons. WFXT is the only Boston television station that has never changed its network affiliation, having always been a Fox affiliate since the network's inception.
The station launched a new website based on the Fox Television Stations internet division's new My Fox interface as of May 23, 2006. It became standard on all Fox owned-and-operated station websites in the next few months. However, the new site did not become WFXT's official web address until July 12.
At one point, the station was "tentatively planning" to air News Corporation-owned and Fox sister network MyNetworkTV from 1 to 3 p.m. on the weekdays if the new network could not find an affiliate in the Boston market. On July 21, 2006, Derry, New Hampshire-based WZMY-TV was announced as Boston's affiliate of MyNetworkTV (which began operations on September 5). Although MyNetworkTV does not air on WFXT, the station has promoted programming for the network during its newscasts.
On October 12, 2007, Providence, Rhode Island's Fox affiliate, WNAC-TV, invoked the FCC's network non-duplication rule. This resulted in Comcast blacking out Fox primetime and sports programming from WFXT on its cable systems in Bristol County, Massachusetts. This change did not affect the airing of channel 25's syndicated lineup or newscasts. On July 31, 2008, the Charter system in Westport also became subject to the blackouts; this contributed to its eventual removal from that system on September 23.
WFXT's analog signal began malfunctioning on November 1, 2008 as a result of a power surge forcing the station to reduce its power. By December 9, the antenna deteriorated to the point that the station reduced its power to the point that in most areas, viewers can now only receive the station via cable, satellite, and its digital signal. The station then began to state that the possibility existed that channel 25 may have to cease its analog broadcast ahead of the DTV conversion date, at that time February 17, 2009. In the end, the station's analog service remained on the air even after that date (a result of the transition being delayed to June 12); however, after the antenna continued to fail (to the extent that the station estimated the signal was only reaching three percent of its former coverage, with no signal at all at the station's studio), the analog signal was finally shut off on February 27, 2009.
WFXT ceased broadcasting in analog on February 27, 2009, becoming the second English-language station from the six major networks in Boston to do so after WZMY-TV ceased analog broadcasting in December 2008, and the only FTSG station not to terminate on the new June 12 transition date.
Many Boston-area residents had complained about poor reception of WFXT-DT as compared to other major local broadcasters. This was due to the transmitter previously operating under a reduced power output of 78 kW from a side-mounted antenna. Bill Holbrook, Chief Engineer for WFXT, has stated publicly that the full power broadcast may not be reached until August 2009, when construction of a new antenna and transmitter will be complete. However completion of the signal upgrades were completed in April, 2009, when the new high power transmittwer was turned on for the first time , giving WFXT a signal considered to be at par with the other high power stations licensed to Boston. The new antenna and transmission feedline being replaced two weeks earlier. (The license to cover, BLCDT-20090422ABH, was filed April 23, 2009 .)
It was also alleged that one reason for the previous low power broadcasts may be due to requirements to avoid interference with WTIC-TV, a Fox affiliate in Hartford, Connecticut which also broadcasts on the same digital channel (31) from less than 100 miles away. However, this allegation was false; other Fox-owned stations including Philadelphia's WTXF declined to build out full-powered facilities prior to the transition date due to insufficient space in the transmitter building, on the tower, or both.
WFXT broadcasts a total of 32½ hours of local news a week (six hours on weekdays, one hour on Saturdays and 1½ hours on Sundays).
One of the few productive moves WFXT made under the Boston Celtics' ownership tenure was commissioning the regional cable channel New England Cable News to produce a 10 P.M. newscast, which launched in early-1993. Fox 25 News at 10 aired for a half-hour, and was initially anchored by Heather Kahn, with Tim Kelley on weather. Kahn lasted a year and a half in this role before transferring to ABC affiliate WCVB-TV; Lila Orbach replaced her on the newscast.
WFXT opted not to renew its contract with NECN in 1995; that October, NECN moved the newscast to WSBK. Afterward, there was no local news on WFXT until the September 1996 launch of the in house-produced 10 P.M. broadcast, initially branded as Fox News Boston before reviving the Fox 25 News title. During this time, it relied on national Fox News updates that aired during the day. It was the second-to-last Fox-owned station to make such a launch. From that point, channel 25 established its news operation gradually. In June 2001, WFXT added a 4:30PM news show anchored by Jodi Applegate. By fall 2002, the program was moved to 5PM, and in 2003, it was expanded to an hour. It also began using the same anchors as the 10PM broadcast. The station added a weekday morning newscast that same year as well. Most recently, it added a Sunday-Friday night 11PM newscast on November 5, 2007.
The station claims its 10 P.M. news is currently the top-rated late newscast in the Boston market. WFXT began using new music, graphics, and "Fox 25" logos (based on Fox News) in all newscasts on September 3, 2006. In addition to its main studios, WFXT operates a news bureau on Beacon Hill near the state house in downtown Boston. It serves as an interview location for Massachusetts lawmakers as well as a home base for weekday morning commentator Doug "V.B." Goudie and political editor Joe Battenfeld.
WFXT's newscasts were commonly seen in a fictional sense within the universe of David E. Kelley's Boston-set shows Ally McBeal, Boston Public, and The Practice. They were all produced by Fox's syndicated division Twentieth Television. This was despite The Practice airing on ABC. During weather segments, the station uses live National Weather Service radar data that originates from the Local Forecast Office in Taunton. On June 14, 2009 starting with their 10 o'clock newscast, WFXT became the last station in the Boston market to launch news in high definition. With the change to HD came the new Fox O&O HD graphics currently used on many sister Fox stations across the country.
On May 19, 2009, WFXT and CBS duopoly WBZ-TV/WSBK-TV announced a content sharing agreement between them. The stations will share video for general market news, along with a helicopter for traffic reports and breaking news.
On September 14, 2009, the station canceled their hour-long weeknight newscast at 5, which had long placed fourth in its timeslot, and added a half-hour broadcast at 6PM. As such, WFXT is the only Fox O&O with a 6PM newscast, but no 5PM newscast. WFXT is also one of only three Fox O&Os without a midday newscast (along with WNYW in New York City and WOFL in Orlando).